Recently, my daughter drew a picture of our family. She’ll be three next week and is just honing her artistic skills, so calling it a picture is actually a stretch. It was more like a collection of scribbles on the page. When I asked her to explain who was in the picture, her little finger pointed to Daddy, Mommy, her older sister, herself and the dog. Hold the phone. We don’t have a dog. I felt a pang of guilt for depriving her of one. She and her sister constantly beg and plead with me to get one. Then I felt another sort of guilt. Do you ever feel like you are totally screwing up your kids? This was that kind of guilt too.

See, it started out as a joke one day. We were driving around and to keep them entertained, I asked, “What kind of dog should we get?”  The poor little things blurted out everything they would want in a dog – cuddly, fuzzy, frisky, brown, no white! no black! no spotted!… big! wait, no little, so he can sleep in my bed… we even named the dog “Car”l, after the lovable rottweiler from the classic kids’ books. When people ask me in front of the kids if I’m going for a third baby (so rude! but that’s another topic) my kids say in unison, “No! We’re getting a dog instead!” So that’s how this fantasy dog started appearing in family portraits.

The fact is, we can’t get a dog yet. We’re just not ready. Our lives are too busy and my youngest is not even fully potty trained yet. Knowing most of the dog duties will most likely fall on me and the fact that I have never in my life owned a pet, I need feel like it’s something I can handle, for the dog’s sake.

Until “Carl” does come along, we do weird stuff like lurk around dog parks, pet stores and pet supply stores to get our doggie fix. We even picked out a cozy dog bed last week for the dog of our future. We stock doggie treats for the neighborhood dogs and we read tons of dog books. We’re obsessed.

But the creepiest thing we did and something that borders on crazy, is that we hired a dog to come to my little one’s birthday party last Saturday. Thanks to Google, I found a very nice woman with a therapy dog, Misty, who was willing to come spend an hour with us. Misty was so sweet and gentle and even did tricks (clapping, dancing, high-fiving!). When Misty surprised the birthday girl and presented her with a present, my little girl just absolutely melted. And so did I. Thanks, Misty!

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